On location with Stéphanie Gac of the Alpes-Maritimes-Cote d’Azur Film Commission
With an increasing number of international projects under its belt, the Alpes-Maritimes - Cote d’Azur region is quickly becoming one of the most active filming locations in all of France. Stéphanie Gac of the Alpes Maritimes-Cote d’Azur Film Commission sat down with TLG to discuss the region’s filming potential and how it stays competitive.
How did you become involved in the film business and what has been your career path to get you to your current role?
I worked for 10 years in the city of Cannes, where I was put in charge of delivering filming permits and I gained a great insight into the expectations of production. I have expanded my territory and now I work for the Côte d’Azur Film Commission.
What does this role involve exactly and what do you enjoy most about being the operations director of the Commission du Film Alpes-Maritimes Cote d’Azur?
It’s definitely a full time job! I love being in contact with all the people who make movies. It’s exciting to read a script before everybody else and help producers and directors to find the right location to develop their projects. I see lots of amazing locations which is one of the best parts of the job.
What can you tell me about your region as a filming destination?
In the Alpes-Maritimes department, we are lucky to have many types of locations; pebble/sand beaches, mountains, big cities, small villages, roads and forests, all of which you can get to within an hour. We have a location database that location managers can use to do some recce on and some of locations that we keep in our files, for example for prestigious locations.
We advise all productions to work with local technicians as we have a data base of 230 professional technicians, 90 actors/actresses and 250 extras.
In Côte d’Azur, we have high-quality services and professionals in the industry. We know how to make feature films, commercials and television series. We also welcome productions of all sizes to utilise our locations.
What locations are most commonly used by foreign film and TV crews coming to film in the region?
Producer and directors come here largely for the natural light. As acclaimed painters before them, they appreciate the sun and the clarity. In the case of car commercials or car-centric television shows (such as The Grand Tour), they seek out unique roads including the Col de Vence, Col de Turini, Col de Braus or la Grande Corniche. They have beautiful turns and sometimes, a sea-view. Villas with a California style are very popular but our high country is also very attractive with lunar plates, forest and small friendly villages. Above all this however, the sand beaches with palm trees bear the closest resemblance to California.
What are the more unusual locations that you have to offer that our readers would not necessarily associate with the region?
You wouldn't think that we have farms for example, or ski stations but we have a lot ! Valberg is a great example of the former, with a peak altitude of 1,673m.
What locations worldwide can the Alpes Maritimes/Cote d’Azur easily double for?
The Côte d'Azur is an open-air studio - just film it your way and we will help you.
What are the advantages of filming in your region and what makes it film friendly?
All the cities are very well organised in welcoming productions and there’s at least one person in each city who is in charge of providing filming permits. They are used to adapting to all sorts of requests, making them highly skilled at their jobs. If a shoot is conducted with a small crew, you can expect to receive the permit the following day. Obviously if you want to block a road then it takes longer, usually around two weeks.
What foreign productions have filmed in your region in the past few years?
In 2016 alone we worked on a variety of projects. The English series Riviera, produced by Sky Atlantic spent seven months on site, using 300 locations, 300 local technicians on a GBP40 million budget, GBP21 million of which was spent here. In terms of feature films, we’ve had The Adventurers by Director Stephen Fung with Jean Reno, 50 shades of Darker by Director James Foley with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, amongst others.
How many ‘location shoot days’ did your region record for 2016?
For all of the PACA region, we had 445 days of shooting in 2016 for feature films alone. We are still accumulating data for the industry as a whole.
Do you offer any ‘local incentives’ financial or other for productions considering filming in the Alpes-Maritimes – Cote d’Azur region?
The Alpes-Maritimes Department has a “Feature Film Aid”. It is granted to production companies submitting a feature-length fiction or animated project intended for cinematographic production and whose significant manufacturing time is spent on the departmental territory. The amount of the aid is equal to EUR100,000 and may be reduced to EUR50,000 if the project receives aid from two regional and/or departmental authorities. This assistance takes the form of a grant. Assistance from the Departmental Support Fund is granted only to delegated production companies that have previously obtained a CNC pre-approval.
We also have a fund for television - it is granted to production companies presenting works of fiction or animation (short, long and unitary series) intended to be broadcast on television and of which a significant manufacturing time takes place on the departmental territory. The amount of the aid is equal to EUR100,000 for units of 90 minutes or more, while series of at least 52 minutes may be lowered to EUR50,000 when the project receives aid from two regional and/or departmental authorities. This assistance also takes the form of a grant.
What has been your most difficult location assignment or request to date and why?
Nothing really comes to mind, the Côte d’Azur is used to and welcomes small or crazy requests. The only thing I will say is that since the tragic events of November 2015 in Paris and especially of July 2016 in Nice, security has increased everywhere. Understandably, the police are very strict but as a flipside, productions can rest assured that they are safe.
Are there any particular tips that you would like to share with our readers about filming in your region?
We’re quite lucky in that we have 300 days of sunshine each year so you have plenty of options on deciding when to come and visit. My only advice would be to avoid clashing with the Cannes Film Festival, unless your film is being screened of course!
What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels in your region ?
A few that I can recommend are Hotel des Ambassadeurs in Menton, Welcome in Villefranche, Grand Hôtel du Cap in Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat, Eden Roc in Antibes, Belles Rives in Juan-Les-Pins, Negresco in Nice and Martinez, Majestic, Carlton and Radisson in Cannes.
We have lot of hotels all around the department that are familiar with hosting production crews. As a result, they are ready to provide special rates and offers such as an early breakfast, packed lunch, late closing bar, quiet rooms, free wifi, etc.
What would you recommend crew and cast do to have fun and relax on down days or pre/post shoot?
Other than enjoying the sun? Tasting the local food of course! You have to taste all our specialties such as socca, pissaladière and pan bagna. The English and American crews are keen on petits farcies with a glass of rosé on a terrace. You also have a lot of museums such as the Picasso or Cocteau museums - all the cities have hidden gems to discover. That’s life in Côte d’Azur!
Stéphanie, thank you for your time.
You’re very welcome.
Global Filming Incentive - France (see more…)
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